THOUSANDS of air passengers are nervously awaiting the outcome of today's crunch talks aimed at averting industrial action which could close the country's three main airports.
Siptu representatives from Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) will meet to decide how to respond to an invitation to talks from the Labour Relations Commission.
LRC chief executive Kieran Mulvey has stepped in to attempt to halt the strike action, which will cause a nightmare situation for air travellers.
Passengers had been warned they may face disruption on Monday if staff at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports stage rolling work stoppages.
The row centres on a €700m deficit in the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme.
Mr Mulvey called on the union not to proceed with industrial action.
He also called on the DAA to pull back from its High Court application for an injunction to block the action.
Aer Lingus had threatened to sue Siptu, its officials and members for €2m a day, while the DAA was planning to seek an injunction against the action at the High Court tomorrow.
It is understood that Mr Mulvey has sent a set of proposals on how to solve the problems to the union.
His move came after the decision yesterday by Siptu, which represents airport and Aer Lingus workers, to go ahead with planned one-day industrial action over pensions.
Yesterday, Siptu insisted the DAA was no longer prepared to honour its obligations to fund the pension scheme.
Following a meeting, Siptu said it had decided to proceed with the strike action after the failure of the DAA and Aer Lingus to put forward proposals.
If Mr Mulvey's talks bid fails, it is widely expected that the rolling stoppage throughout the day will cripple the three airports and affect many flights.
Siptu sector organiser, Dermot O'Loughlin commented yesterday: "Industrial action will proceed on Monday as expected proposals from Aer Lingus and the DAA that could have helped resolve this dispute have not materialised.
"There is also anger and dismay among our members at the threats, legal and otherwise, at their staff by the employers."
In a statement yesterday, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar called on the parties to renew their efforts to reach agreement and avoid the industrial action.
He called on both sides to use the State machinery to resolve the current difficulties regarding the pension scheme.
Meanwhile, the board of the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) announced that it had appointed Kevin Toland as the company's new chief executive.
Toland (47) joins DAA from Glanbia, where he is currently chief executive and president of Glanbia USA & Global Nutritionals, based in Chicago, Illinois.